The spate of unprofessionalism in the construction sector in Sierra Leone poses a danger to lives and property, the bodies representing professional engineers have warned.The Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers (SLIE) and the Professional Engineers Registration Council (PERC) say many buildings, particularly storied ones, across the country were dangers waiting to happen due to the unprofessional work put into erecting them.
The groups are appealing to new President Julius Maada Bio’s government to help facilitate ongoing efforts to review the relevant laws around the sector to enable them hold their members to account.
SLIE was formed in 1970 and became a statutory body by an Act of Parliament passed on 13th March 1990.
It is tasked with facilitating the advancement of engineering in all its branches for the improvement and development of the country and to promote and maintain unity, public usefulness, honour and the interest of its members.
SLIE also seeks to promote sound engineering practice, engineering education in schools and gender participation in engineering.
Importantly, it advises government on all engineering matters.
The PERC, an arm of SLIE, also a product of the 1990 Act, is responsible for the registration of professional engineers.
It basically regulates and controls the practice of engineering in the country.
Officials say the 1990 Act has failed to adequately address today’s challenges facing the profession, leading to many avoidable disasters due to poor construction work.
“Failure to implement the improved regulations is one of the greater risks to the safety of our citizens as multi-storied buildings continue to be built without adequate regulations. These are incidents waiting to happen as have been demonstrated in similar situations in Sierra Leone and the sub region,” said Engineer Tani Pratt, President of PERC.
The SLIE and PERC officials, according to a statement from the office of the president on Friday, met with President Bio at State House where they presented their concerns.
They include lack of proper certification scheme for people working in the engineering filed.
Professor Jonas Redmond-Sawyer of SLIE said they took advantage of the President’s call during his State Opening of parliament last year, seeking to partner with professional bodies like theirs in addressing issues of development in the country.
Professor Redmond-Sawyer added that that was a brilliant step as it provided a forum for dialogue and interaction between government and the professional bodies.
President Bio, according to the release, welcomed the move by the professional bodies, noting that he shared their concerns around the unprofessionalism that has led to the “perennial problem” of poorly constructed buildings” scattered especially around the capital city of Freetown.
“The Act itself must be made current and as soon as you present us with the reviewed Act, we will quickly move it through the natural stages of governance and get it back to you so that you have a new document that will empower you and also bring you to date,” the president said of the proposed new Act aimed at regulating the engineering field.